Saturday, August 25, 2012

Below is a blog post that I wrote after a couple of weeks of intense flaming and misrepresentation of the serial essay I wrote in 2008.   I had  reposted it in order on my other blog after it appeared in serial form at Echidne of the Snakes, where the flaming took place.

The most controversial part was "Early Selections" in which I criticized and began to analyze Darwin's very explicit statement of the premise of eugenics.  That criticism included posts on at least one other blog which misrepresented what I wrote so obviously that it was clear the author hadn't even really read that post, and certainly hadn't read all of them.  It was my first experience of just how dishonest the advocacy for the phony post-War, eugenics  free, Darwin was.   He never lived, he is a fictitious character created to shield the real Darwin from the facts of what he wrote and did.   He was created in the post-war period when  his obvious racism, ethnic bigotry, sexism, eugenics and, yes, Social Darwinism, should have been being admitted and removed from science.  I already knew that when I wrote the essay.  But since it was to be posted on a blog I was writing for on as a guest, I was reluctant to go as far in exposing that as I could have.  That reluctance doesn't apply to my own blogs.  The purpose of these posts is to document that Charles Darwin was, in fact, the inspiration of eugenics, that he approved it as soon as he read the early manifestations of it from Galton, Greg, Haeckel, Fick and others.  Not only did he approve it but in he gave it publicity by filling The Descent of Man with eugenics assertions and arguments, knowingly.  He was, by far, more famous than any of the actual inventors of eugenics or any of its early figures,  Charles Darwin was the inspiration and also its foremost proponent in its earliest period.

The well known, dishonest "aid" paragraph that is used, almost always in truncated form, by those who want to distance him from the horrible things he said throughout the book was obviously put there by Darwin as a means of denying what he was stating in what he clearly meant to be taken as solid science in the rest of the book.  As I've read more into this, one other thing that is clear, Charles Darwin was quite experienced in that kind of politics by the 1870s.   He constantly let other people fight his battles for him,  Huxley, most famously.  The decades after the introduction of natural selection was a struggle to get the idea adopted in science,  it didn't have the absolute place it gained after the 1930s, though it had been adopted by many, from the beginning.   During Darwin's later years he was still campaigning for the adoption of natural selection as well as doing some work in less wide reaching areas that, I'd guess, might turn out to be more durable than natural selection will turn out to be.  Darwin was engaged in the encouragement of eugenics as it was forming, publicizing the idea, lending his greater fame to its inventor and its early proponents,  giving it one of its most succinct articulations in the paragraph for which the "aid" paragraph provides rather transparently insincere deniability.   I will fully analyze that in another post.  The problem isn't that it's hard to make this case, the problem is there is so much confirmation of it.   And that those who have constructed and want to maintain the eugenics free Darwin have thrown up so much obfuscation that has to be answered and debunked.

The most controversial issue of all, Darwin's obvious inspiration of Ernst Haeckel is yet to be dealt with in this series.  I will be doing that this week.  Again, the issue isn't that it's hard to make that association, the problem is that there is so much relevant information to choose from.   And it's indisputable for anyone who looks at the documentary record.  Charles Darwin made that association, himself, during his lifetime, with letters to and visits from Haeckel,  private encouragement and glowing, public  endorsement of books which already had rather devloped versions of the ideas that would make Ernst Haeckel a source of some of the most infamous ideas and, it is indisputable, acts,  in the history of science.   The Descent of Man, the road map I relied on to find evidence in this case, makes Darwin's endorsement of Haeckel clear.  That is coming in posts beginning next week.

Anyway, here, in slightly expanded form, is that post from 2008.

Dissing an Idol and Feeling Better For It

The furor over the essay posted below produced some good points to consider and a lot of silly fun over at Echidne’s blog. I did get too much of the latter by citing Thomas Huxley and Richard Dawkins to refute the instantly arrived at piece of erudition from the Wiki Rangers and Knights of Sagan that “only creationists use the word ‘Darwinism”. Though even that obvious refutation didn’t matter. You wonder at the phenomenon of people who won’t read or think but who frequent blogs that deal with somewhat complicated ideas.

The most ridiculous, though, didn’t come from the post-adolescent Sciblog wannabees but one Word Search able scholar who went into paroxysms of indignation over the use of the word “cull” to describe what Darwin lamented mightn’t happen in ‘civilised’ countries due to the level of charity available to people in the work houses of Victorian England. I got the feeling that the guy didn’t know the word before reading it in the essay. Come to think of it, he probably doesn’t understand the New Poor Law or have the skills to find out what the reference to work houses means so this will probably set him off again.

Darwin used a metaphor to describe the unchecked breeding of the “weaker members” of the human species and the bad results it would have for future generations. He said:

Thus the weak members of civilised societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

He introduced the idea that it was stupid to allow certain people to have children after lamenting that they would survive to child bearing age. By comparing people to farm animals in this context he was clearly lamenting that people wouldn’t be treated like animals in a commercial breeding operation.

Let me stop here to ask, isn’t that outrageous enough in itself? Not even animals in the wild, but comparing human beings to animals in a commercial breeding operation? Where else have we seen that idea not only posed by carried out?

Darwin’s Defender didn’t seem to realize that animals selected as not to be bred are not kept as pets on a farm but are marked for early slaughter.  Something that would have been known to the squire Darwin, who was a landowner who enjoyed income from tenant farmers and who had observed breeding operations in his research.  I’ll point out that this is entirely in keeping with the earlier part of the paragraph where Darwin laments that human beings will survive long enough to breed.

The mechanism to prevent this happening in the human population, the one he approves of, the one he heartily approves of among the ‘savages’ is through the deaths of the “weaker members”. That the gentleman's son, Charles Darwin, would leave the culling to the 'savages' signifies absolutely nothing.

By the time Darwin wrote The Descent of Man, where the passage comes from, he was a very experienced writer who was used to having his language dissected by both those hostile to science and by scientists. To think he didn’t mean what he wrote is the kind of double-talk you get from idol worshipers, ironically, it is tantamount to saying he was ga-ga when he wrote it. I think he knew what he was writing and that it is clear he knew what happens to animals on the farm, he cited exactly the practices of commercial animal breeding in his work and would have known about its enormous usefulness to his great idea, which isn’t evolution but natural selection. The subsequent and dishonest assertion of his humanity does nothing to dissuade me that he knew the horrible conclusions that had to come from believing what he had just written.

I won’t write down to the level of people who don’t read what they comment on or who won’t look up references they don’t understand. It’s a waste of the time of those readers who do read and do the bother of thinking about what is on the screen in front of them instead of automatically looking to their database of skimpy, pre-fabricated, cliches and prejudices in order to fit in ideas that don’t match any field they’ve got in their heads. Writing down is an insult to people who deserve respect and it’s my experience that the ones who choose to be idiots aren’t going to change no matter how hard you try to explain what you’ve already written.

I will also not hold back because “creationists” might find useful material in what I point out. If it’s there, they’ve got the resources to find it . If the proponents of Darwinism are so worried about ‘science’ that they think covering up the truth will protect it, they care more about their ideology than they do about science. I have no obligation to join in with their cover up efforts.

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